Low-Cost CIS Fighter Continues Development
Russkya Avionika design bureau, in collaboration with IAPO, which is based in Irkutsk, has announced that, in May 2000, it intends to fly the latest phase of the Su-30K upgrade - the export version of the Su-30. The first phase of tests was completed in May 1999, after the first flight, in March, of the phase one aircraft.
The aircraft is regarded as a low cost option and will offer prospective customers a significant discount on the Sukhoi-driven development of the Su-30 - the Su-30MKI - estimated to be as much as $15m. The upgraded aircraft is reported to have a price between $26-30m, depending on avionics and armaments.
According to IAOP, the reason for developing aircraft in parallel with the Su-30M and its various variants for China and India, is that, when deciding to commit to the Su-30MKI, India made it clear that it liked the Su-30. However, its inability to perform the multirole requirements of controlling air to surface attack prompted India to fund the Sukhoi development of the Su-30MKI, using French avionics.
Irkutsk therefore recruited Russkya Avionika to upgrade the aircraft avionics, with the support of the Russian Department of Defence, which is reported to believe that the vectored thrusting of the Su-30MKI was unnecessary. It welcomes the concept of a low cost upgrade of the aircraft, using the experience and a similar technology solution to the MiG-29SMT, so offering a high level of compatibility.
According to Irkutsk spokesman, Alexander Morzhin, the aircraft will be fitted with a unnamed phased array radar and with an avionics suite that appears to offer much of the capability provided by the Su-30M. Russkya Avionika has, however, taken the somewhat novel decision not to replace the complete cockpit of the aircraft. Instead, it will incorporate 'blocks' of equipment using a new MVK computer on board computer to achieve the improvement by replacing the older processing units, reducing cost and keeping compatibility high.
IAPO claims that the aircraft will be the equal of western competitors, in the form of the Eurofighter and Rafale. Earlier statements have, however, suggested that the original intention was to match the F-15, although Sukhoi themselves, say that the aircraft should outmaneuver the heavier F-15.
The first customer for the Su-30K have been reported as being Vietnam, which signed a deal for the aircraft with Rosvooruzhenie for 12 aircraft in November according to reports as part of a package including four Su-27UBK and two Su-27SK
From ConCISe Aerospace
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